FAMILY IN CRISIS A judge's rebuke while sentencing two of Andy Reid's sons bared the challenges the Eagles coach has faced at home.

Posted: November 04, 2007

As coach of the Eagles, Andy Reid has excelled at keeping the lid on, brushing off questions about team controversies with a countenance as stony as Mount Rushmore.

That lid grew airtight when it came to problems at home, with Reid bolting from briefings when anyone dared to broach his sons' legal woes.

It therefore fell to a Montgomery County judge last week to publicly reckon with the dynamics of what he deemed "a family in crisis."

In skewering the structure and supervision in the Reids' Main Line home, Judge Steven T. O'Neill raised the conundrum facing countless other homes in which drug-addicted adult children still live: What is the parents' responsibility - let alone their ability - to monitor and control their grown children?

"You've got to take accountability of what goes on in the house," O'Neill told Reid and his wife, Tammy, in an extraordinary lecture Thursday at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown.

His remarks came as O'Neill sent the Reids' two oldest sons - Garrett, 24, and Britt, 22 - to county prison for up to 23 months each on gun- and drug-related crimes.

The sentencing hearing also laid bare the depths and duration of the Reid brothers' drug dependencies.

A presentence investigation revealed Garrett Reid to have been a street dealer in North Philadelphia and on the Main Line. Britt Reid's addiction, the investigation found, began at age 14 with painkillers prescribed after he hurt his back lifting weights at Harriton High School in Lower Merion Township.

He remains addicted to painkillers.

O'Neill reviewed those histories before a courtroom audience already stunned by news that 89 pills had been found that morning in Garrett Reid's jail cell as he was being brought to court.

Investigators concluded he had concealed them in his rectum before arriving at prison Tuesday evening. He had been ordered there after failing a routine drug test, and now faces additional charges of smuggling contraband.

"I have some real difficulty with the structure in which these two boys live," O'Neill said, noting the guns, ammunition and assortment of drugs that at various times had been in the Reids' home and cars. "What is the supervision?"

Mike Wood, a family therapist at the Livengrin Foundation for Addiction Recovery in Bensalem, noted that addicts are very manipulative and creative, good at concealing things. It may be unfair to hold parents accountable for them into adulthood, he said.

"They are adults," Wood said in an interview Friday. "There is really is no responsibility" on the parents' part.

A search of the Reids' home Thursday night - an effort to trace the drugs found in Garrett Reid's cell - found nothing that had not been prescribed, Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. said.

"I don't see any evidence that there's anything illegal at the home," Castor said. "The illegality is at the prison and the bringing of the contraband in."

O'Neill, however, scolded the brothers in court for not taking enough responsibility for their recoveries.

"He was trying to make the point with them that it's their life, and they need to take control and not defer to others to take care of them," Senior Deputy Attorney General Marc Costanzo said Friday.

O'Neill suggested that Andy and Tammy Reid, while "loving and supportive," may have coddled their sons too much. And that their repeated efforts to put the two through drug rehabilitation may have backfired, leaving them dependent on a "cocktail" of prescribed medications.

Using a phrase that dominated the news, O'Neill likened the Reids' house to a "drug emporium," where the parents doled out the prescribed daily doses for their sons, who swallowed them blindly.

"In effect, they didn't quite know what they were taking at all times," Constanzo said in an interview Friday on WIP-AM. "They didn't know who prescribed it and for what it was being prescribed."

At Thursday's sentencing, Andy and Tammy Reid kept the lid on at the courthouse, declining to speak to reporters jamming the halls. But a day later, at his regular Friday news conference, Andy Reid briefly broke his silence.

Without specifically addressing O'Neill's criticism, Reid said he had "huge concerns" for his sons, and had prayed for their futures.

"This has been a battle we have dealt with here for a few years," he said, adding that he prayed that "they can live a normal life down the road."

A normal life - as normal as the grinding, all-hours life of a football coach can be - is what the Reids always said they had sought.

In his early coaching years in Green Bay, Reid would go into the office at 4 a.m., work a couple of hours, and then go home to help get the five kids up and off to school.

Even before entering the pressure chamber of the Eagles, Reid's time at home was at a premium. As a low-paid assistant coach who never bought on credit, his wife once said, he "worked five or six jobs because he knew I didn't want to work and wanted to be home with our kids."

Hired by the Eagles in 1999, the untested Reid quickly built a reputation as an obsessively organized, no-nonsense coach. Reid's devotion to detail led to many nights on the floor of his office, catching some sleep on sofa cushions.

He built his teams on discipline and tried to draft only players of unblemished character.

When police caught three players cruising South Street with marijuana in 2001, Reid reacted by cutting one and suspending the others. He said he wanted "good players on the field [and] good examples off the field," and tried to take the same approach with his children.

The boys were expected to become Eagle Scouts - and Garrett and Britt did so, Tammy Reid said. Piano lessons were required through age 18. Other rules were bent to accommodate the crazy hours of a coach. If her husband "got home at 9 o'clock, you'll bet the kids are up to see him," she said.

And when that wasn't enough, she let him know. "We've got our roles down pat," she said in that earlier interview. "I'm the one who tells him when he really needs to be home. There's just times you can read the kids' coverage - that's what I call it. You just know one of your kids needs their dad. I say, 'You really need to get to this.' "

As Mormons, the Reids did not allow even alcohol in their home. And Tammy Reid has described her husband's determined efforts to carve out time with Garrett, Britt, and the three younger children - to be present at their sporting events, to take them to movies, to cut down a tree and sing together on Christmas.

When catching Britt's games at Harriton High, Reid, mindful of the attention he draws, took pains to watch from the background, and was known to watch a time or two from his car.

As they grew, he took them to work with him, where they mingled with the players and Eagles staff and served as training-camp water boys and equipment boys.

Their parents hoped that would be enough.

"There are temptations everywhere," Andy Reid said in 2001, the year Garrett set off for his father's alma mater, Brigham Young University. "You hope you raised them right and they take what you've given them and try to make sense of it and, once they're on their own, they can make good decisions."

Behind the wholesome public image, however, Garrett's troubles already had started.

Garrett was viewed as the more lighthearted of the two, a comedian who kept things light, like his mother. Britt in high school was more serious, quiet and brooding, spare with words like his father, and disconsolate when his team suffered a tough loss.

By 2000, Garrett had begun selling cocaine, according to his presentencing report, and was abusing drugs and alcohol at 18.

He sold "to obtain notoriety," not for money, the report said. "I liked being the rich kid" in North Philadelphia, it quoted him as saying. "I could go anywhere in the 'hood. They all knew who I was. I liked being a drug dealer."

By 19, he was selling Percocet. At 20, "I turned everyone on to OxyContin and began using," O'Neill quoted him in the report.

In 2002, he was convicted in Utah of possessing a controlled substance, and was placed on probation. Back on the Main Line in 2004, he was fined for shoplifting from a Sam Goody music store.

By 2006, he was being treated in a Florida drug rehab facility.

His younger brother first encountered drug addiction at an even younger age, the painkillers prescribed after he cracked a vertebra while lifting weights in the off-season en route to becoming a talented nose tackle and center at Harriton.

Early this year, the depths of the brothers' troubles went public on one bizarre winter day.

On the morning of Jan. 30, Britt Reid pointed a handgun at another motorist with whom he had argued while at a stop in West Conshohocken.

"I didn't know if I was going to see my newborn son," the driver, Larry David Johnson, testified in court Thursday. Reid had smiled and driven off after pointing the gun.

About six hours later, a police officer spotted Garrett Reid speeding in an SUV through Plymouth Township, Montgomery County, and gave chase. Reid ran a red light and slammed into a Ford sedan, injuring a 55-year-old woman inside.

When police found drug paraphernalia in the car, Reid admitted using heroin before the accident. Also in his vehicle were a pellet gun and ammunition.

Subsequent police searches of the Reids' home and vehicles found two guns, ammunition and illegal drugs.

The arrests of his sons prompted Andy Reid to take a five-week leave of absence from the Eagles. When Britt and Garrett Reid checked into a Florida drug-rehabilitation program, he accompanied them.

The results have not been stellar.

On Aug. 24, Britt Reid crashed his truck into a shopping cart in a Plymouth Township parking lot.

Abnormally high levels of prescription drugs were in his system, including amphetamines and Valium, authorities said. A search of the truck found more than 200 pills in the vehicle and in his pocket.

Most of the drugs detected had been prescribed for medical conditions, Castor said, but had rendered Reid incapable of driving safely. By going to a store, he also had violated bail conditions that restricted his driving. He was sent to prison.

Garrett Reid was arrested and jailed in mid-October for failing to show up for a drug test. Two weeks later, he tested positive for opiates only days before his scheduled DUI sentencing. He again was ordered to jail, where drugs were found in his cell Thursday morning.

Standing before O'Neill on Thursday, they promised to do better. Again.

Britt Reid said he had been without drugs for 10 weeks in jail, and wanted to move on.

"I'm not a child," he said. "I do live in my parents' house, but they are not responsible for what I do."

His older brother proclaimed himself an addict, and said he would do anything the judge ordered to overcome his disease.

The judge quoted from Garrett Reid's presentencing report: "I don't want to be that kid who was the son of the head coach of the Eagles, who was spoiled and on drugs and OD'd and just faded into oblivion."

In the front row of the courtroom, Andy Reid sat behind his son, his face without expression.

The lid was on.

Contact staff writer Mari A. Schaefer at 610-892-9149 or mschaefer@phillynews.com.

Contributing to this article were Inquirer staff writers Bob Brookover, Ashley Fox and Phil Sheridan.

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